23rd - 26th May 2011
|Viva El Presidente 'Comandante Daniel' Ortega|
Right: The Monument de La Revolution. His right foot was blown off by a bomb at some point. I think he holds a pick in his right hand, and a scruffy black and red Sandinista flag is tied to the barrel of his rifle. Symbolic of tatty revolutionary art.
Would you believe it, yes you would by now, there was an Oirish bear a couple of blocks away! I taxied over ( all of 300yds ). The redoubtable Michael was holding the fort. He had Guiness, in tins, and one other, American, customer. Originally an electrician from Cork, Michael came to Honduras 27 years ago to help in refugee camps over the border from Nicaragua. He stayed and is a fount of knowledge about the place and lots of other things as well. I think he is married to a local ( a 'nicca' as they are fondly referred to by ex-pats and locals alike ) and has two children.
The city is definitely a 'no walk zone' especially after dark. Lads high on 'crack-cocaine' stalk the streets ( apparently ) waiting to pounce on locals and tourists alike. I used a taxi, supplied by the hovel, sorry hotel, to get around. The driver, Bayardo, was a splendidly cheerful chap. He had been a Sandinista guerrilla. He proudly showed me a photo of him being presented with an award of some sort by Comandante Ortega himself in the 1980s.
The upside of this place is, I suppose, that it is cheap. Or at least where I went it was.
Right: A view over the 'city' from this hill looking north towards lake Managua. Not a very inspiring sight. It looked much the same in all the other directions. I never did find out where the 'posh' area was. Carefully hidden, no doubt.
Left: Sandino, and his hat, from a distance.
Bayardo, the reformed guerrilla, drove me the 30 miles north-east to Granada. We had to stop for a beer on the way. It was so HOT!
Anyway, Granada is another world altogether. It is on the shore of Lake Nicaragua ( a vast lake ) and is truly a revelation after Managua. The town is 'Ye Olde Worlde' colonial Spanish and utterly charming. Somewhat similar to San Christobal ( Mexico ) and Antigua ( Guatemala ). Some wrecked old churchs but otherwise neat and tidy and very 'touristy' in fact. There are smart hotels and restaurants and Spanish language schools. It is one of few showpieces in Nicaragua.
Left: The Alhambra Hotel. Comfortable and excellent service and $50 per night. Not too bad. There were several much more expensive and presumably some cheaper. It was on the central Plaza......
Right: ....which was of typical variety; ie Cathedral, bandstand ( seen here ), statues, flagpole etc. Plus a vast array of carriages. There was a considerable whiff of horse manure which drifted into the hotel. Very comforting.
The locals used a lot of wonky looking horsedrawn carts to transport their goods. The carts and horses, of a spindly variety, both looked equally decrepit and vied for road room with taxis, motorbikes and the ever present 'chicken' buses. Quite a rustic scene.
Left: A view up the main drag in Granada.
Right: In case you've forgotten what the national flag looks like. The triangle shaped design in the centre features the sky, the sun, the mountains and the sea.
Next stop....Costa Rica.